Our Transition Initiative (TI) started in August of 2007 after a group of about 25 people came together to hear about what was happening in a small town in the UK called Totnes. From our overseas visitor, we learned about Totnes’ plans to “relocalize” and thought, “We’ve got an island with clearly defined boundaries, an engaged population that cares about our community, lots of potential for rural farming, and a supportive local government. Let’s give it a try!”
Two years later, we’re still going strong…and gaining traction all the time! We now have over 340 members signed on to our online social forum; since August 2008, each month we’ve held community “Potlucks With a Purpose” with around 100 people showing up consistently where we discuss as a community how to become more resilient and self-reliant; we’ve just launched an already thriving, 160+ member LETS (Local Exchange Trading System) of our own design called the Whidbey Community exchange; we’ve been making progress on our Whidbey Island Food Asset Mapping Project; we offer a “Re-Skilling Digest” of many self-reliance classes, workshops and tours offered on the island; and each month new action groups are proposed at the potlucks which serve to attract and catalyze members of our community on specific tasks like fruit tree pruning and gleaning, health and sustainability, community energy cooperative and more! Talk about unleashing the collective genius!!
Last year, we had 2 interns who experienced first-hand how a grassroots organization brings community together around common goals. Hannah Varieur focused on fundraising and local economy issues and Aimie Vallat created a photo-essay project of family farms in Central Whidbey with Middle Schoolers…AND created a very professional video about Transition Whidbey which we’re using to spread the word far and wide (see below).
Over the past year, we’ve build relationships and work cooperatively across the island with Island Transit (our public transit system), with our island’s 3 Mayors and 3 County Commissioners and members of the City Councils, with many locally-owned and operated businesses and non-profits, and of course, with the individuals who make up the heart of our movement.
At July’s "Potluck With a Purpose," we met the remainder of a $5000 matching grant challenge with fun, games, and an auction of locally donated items! In September, our Potluck will focus on neighborhood scale local food…asking the questions and mapping: “Who is growing what, where” and “How food secure can we become in our own neighborhoods?”
It’s been a good, long road and we’re only just beginning. On the horizon is a presentation that we can take on the road about Peak Oil, Climate Change, and Global Economic Instability and how we can meet these challenges locally, IF we work together. Over the next 6 months to a year, we hope to launch a printed currency called the Whidbey Buck. It’s an equivalency currency that can be bought with dollars and sold back for dollars (with a slight cost to discourage trading them in for dollars).
We’re also working with our regional organization, SCALLOPS (Sustainable Communities ALL Over the Puget Sound) which serves to connect, share resources, support and encourage sustainable community efforts in the Puget Sound.
We invite you to check out our website, take what you can from it, send us suggestions or comments and ideas, and keep up your amazing work! www.transitionwhidbey.org
Britt Walker, Transition Whidbey